Free Trader: Maverick
Hammers, pliers, screwdrivers - we need better tools!
This “Item” is actually a listing of multiple various items that might be included in a Toolkit at TL-11+. The Toolkits listed on p.97 of MgT Core rules are extremely non-specific, which might actually be an improvement over the 1970s-era tools listed in the original Traveller LBBs, but it can be helpful in roleplay to have some idea what is actually in your toolbox and what it can do – for example, many tools have uses other than the repairs for which they were intended by the manufacturer, and adventurers are the perfect people to come up with ideas to misuse tools in creative ways.
What general types of tools are we going to need in this kit? Judging by present-day toolkits, there should be tools for measuring; screwdriver/wrench equivalents for getting hold of things and turning them (usually tightening or loosening); hammer equivalents for banging on things when frustrated; fasteners and joiners, both temporary and permanent; cutting, smoothing, or hole-punching tools; and tools to make tools (drill-presses, lathes, punches, presses, etc). Of course, any Good and Kind and Reasonable GM should allow the inclusion of anything that in hindsight ought to have been included, making the toolkit a smaller and more specific version of a Ship’s Locker. We also predicted a merger between the different types of toolkits (mechanical, electronic, metalworking), with any specialized tools needed for work on particular equipment being included with that equipment.
Fabber: One completely new tool that ought to be in any TL-11+ Mechanical Tookit is a small Fabricator with a variety of metal and plastic feedstock, for making little screws, bolts, nuts, connectors, and other small parts that tend to break or get lost. The ship’s engineering workstation should have a database of common parts to be 3-D printed in the Fabber; individual vehicles and other pieces of equipment should come with a common data medium with a specific database of parts for that item.
Multi-Torque: This tool or set of tools replaces screwdrivers, wrenches, and such. These can telescope and bend for those hard to reach places, and include either a fiber-optic light and viewing tube or a sensor at the tip that feeds to the user’s datapad. Precise rotation of the tip allows proper torque without breaking any of the items involved (Ha!). First generation is probably magnetic, second generation gravitic; either way, the tool adjusts itself to a rough fit and then just grabs on and holds. If chemistry advances sufficiently, the tips of some tools may be a material that is very soft and molds itself around and into whatever it needs to grip, then when a certain frequency current is applied the soft material becomes very strong and hard, fitted precisely to what it needs to grip. When finished, a different frequency current turns it back into putty again.
Multi-Clamp: Technologies similar to the Multi-Torque (magnetic, gravitic, chemical) can be used to grab hold of whatever needs manipulation, while strong and flexible rods adjust to either clamp items together, force them apart, or simply hold them in place. Commonly used with the Multi-Torque so that the sophont’s own gripping strength is not a limiting factor in the application of force.
MagHammer: Comes in various sizes for fitting into different spaces or impacting different sized surfaces; the equivalent of a rubber surface is also available when dents are not desired. The tool is fixed in place firmly against the surface with use of Multi-Clamps, the desired force of impact is set, and BAM, the job is done (and thumbs everywhere rejoice!) Not generally used for driving nails; if actual nails are used, they are more likely fired from a nailgun; otherwise, see below for alternative fasteners.
Universal Putty: Fill in the gap, in plastic or ceramic or metal; mold to fit; zap with appropriate current; and it is probably harder and stronger than the original material. Cut and shape to exact fit with PlasmaCutter and Nuclear Sander. Not useable where specific conductive or other properties are required.
ChemWeld and EpoxyBond: If you thought SuperGlue was something, these are orders of magnitude beyond. What is fastened with these generally needs to be cut apart, unless the fit is such that a drop of DeBonder can be applied to dissolve the bond.
SuperTape: Ductape on steroids, very strong, sticks to almost any surface, good in atmo or vacuum. Non-conductor so can sub for electrical tape. Two methods for removal: 1) at time of placement, include a tab on the free end that will let it be peeled up from there; 2) spray gel debonder that will dissolve the adhesive (if you forgot to put on a peel-tab, and don’t have any debonder, see Plasma Cutter below).
WD-2440: Penetrating solvent/lubricant for getting stuck things unstuck. Comes in spray-oil or squeeze tube formats, for use in atmo or vac.
PlasmaCutter: Comes in Macro, Mini, and Micro sizes for using precision plasma beams to cut away whatever needs cutting. For extra precision, use a Multi-Clamp to hold it and your workstation or datapad to aim and control the work.
Multi-Spectrum Tunable Laser Welder: Welds most broken things back together, with precisely controlled depth and temperature of weld. As with cutting, use of Multi-Clamp and datapad if recommended for highest precision.
Molecular Sander: device that breaks down molecular bonds to abrade material away to extreme precision tolerances.
Remote “Eyes”: These come in two forms, either at different TLs or just different preferences. One is a flexible, controllable tube that can worm into tight spaces, with two optical fibers: one for seeing, one for carrying a light beam to illuminate what you want to see. Might as well include a little grabber on the end as well. The other “eye” looks more like a tiny (1cm) robotic spider, with gekkocot feet to climb any surface, and high tolerance for temperatures, stray electricity, and different chemicals that might be encountered. Sensors will vary by TL, from mere optical to PRIS, and may include sniffers or samplers as well. Data and control are both wireless signals to datapad or workstation.
Engineer’s Goggles: Besides the obvious function of eye protection, these provide flash and glare protection, low-light and IR, and at higher levels a PRIS function specialized for magnifying small parts close up, rather than large things far away. Can also function as a HUD or data-display for datapad or remote eyes.
Hearing Protection Buds: Not only keep damaging levels of sound out, but still let you hear your co-worker speak, or your boss 100m away on the comm, or your favorite music through your own comm.
My thanks to Arthur Pollard for his suggestions that ended up in many of these toolkits.